Education Blog

How Safe Is an Abortion as a Medical Procedure? What About At-Home Abortion?

September 16, 2021

Abortion is still heavily under discussion everywhere. In the United States, annually more than 600,000.000 abortions take place. Many people who end a pregnancy choose to do so because they are parents and cannot financially or physically support another child. These parents are looking for options. There are many things that complicate abortion for many. This includes state abortion bans, transportation issues, and childcare obligations. The most pressing concern is: Which option is the safest?

What the Data Says About Safely Terminating Pregnancies

Research shows that terminating a pregnancy is safe. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, more than 16,000,000 abortions were performed in the US between 1998 and 2010. This led to the deaths of 108 women. This means that less than one out of every 100,000 abortions results in the death of a pregnant woman due to less access of care. This number is on the decline. Abortion is overall 14 times safer than childbirth.

Comparative Risks of Abortion Methods

Different types of abortions come with different risks. Some people may do better with one type of pregnancy termination than the other. There are different risks for abortions at different stages of pregnancy.

According to 2020 medical review books, there are three major complications that can arise from abortion. The first is infection. This can be treated with antibiotics. A small amount of pregnancy tissue may be left in the uterus. This can cause hemorrhage. The third is that surgical tools can cause injury to the vagina, bladder, cervix and bowels during an abortion.

These complications are very rare. A first-semester, surgical pregnancy termination, has a 1.3 percent chance of complications. A second-semester, surgical abortion, has a 1.5 percent chance. A medical abortion, however, has a 2 percent chance. Terminating the pregnancy has a lower risk of serious complications than the other two-thirds of one percent.

Safety of Surgical Abortions

The most common type of abortion in the US is surgical abortion. Doctors perform it in a clinic. There are two types: surgical abortion. The first trimester is when suction abortion (also known as vacuum aspiration) takes place. Second trimester abortion used dilation and evacuation.

Suction abortion is safe and has low risks of complications, as with all forms of abortion. According to a review of 35 years of research, less than 0.5 percent need to be admitted to the hospital. In less than 0.1% of cases, major complications such as hemorrhage that require a blood transfusion are possible. According to the CDC, most suction abortion deaths occur due to complications or infection.

Three states have banned dilation and evacuation as a second form of surgical abortion. The Supreme Court in 2007 upheld a federal ban against “partial-birth abortions,” which is a non-medical term that could be used to describe this procedure. Safety is not the reason for bans. While the likelihood of complications from abortion may be higher in later pregnancy, it is still very low. One in 90 evacuation and dilation abortions causes damage to the cervical area. One in 75 cases can lead to infection. One percent of all procedures result in large blood clots. Less than 0.003% have bleeding that needs to be transfused. The majority of second-trimester abortions that result in death are caused by infection or hemorrhage.

Safety of At-Home Medical Abortions

Two different drugs are required to perform an abortion at home. These can be taken for as little as a few hours, or even a few days. Mifepristone blocks progesterone, a hormone that is necessary for maintaining pregnancy. Misoprostol, the second pill, causes uterus contraction and expulsion of pregnancy tissue. This is similar to having an unplanned miscarriage. You can use the second pill before the first one. But it isn’t as effective. Medical abortions are only performable until the 10th week of pregnancy.

There are very few complications in medical abortion. The FDA has approved it for over 20 years. It has been extensively studied in more than 100 publications. All of these publications have found that it is safe and effective. Scientists have concluded that it is less risky than Tylenol.

USA tightly regulates Mifepristone. Even though it is a safe procedure of medical abortion. Pregnant women must visit a doctor in person to obtain a prescription for the medication, even if they are taking it at home. The provider must prescribe the medication and distribute it to the patient. This is unlike other medications that pharmacies can’t carry.

Federal government prohibits telemedicine abortion. Telehealth easily prescribe the pill to the patient. However, studies show that the procedure is as safe as receiving it from a doctor. Dr. Daniel Grossman is the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco.

To limit COVID-19 risk, the FDA recently approved telemedicine abortions. The ruling applies only to states that have not restricted access to telemedicine abortion. Six states have outright banned the use of telemedicine for abortion. Another fifteen states have made it mandatory that the prescribing physician be present at the procedure.

Safety of Self-Managed an Abortion

Many areas are difficult to access medical and surgical abortions by the ban on abortion. If a pregnant woman is unable to get the medical care she needs, they might decide to do their own abortion. According to a study, seven percent of US women tried an abortion by themselves in their lifetime. This includes physical, herbal, and online methods.

Because they are unable to access the medication through the health system, people who purchase the abortion pill online illegally often do so without the consent of their doctor. It is possible to buy counterfeits that could be ineffective and cause adverse reactions. A 2018 study showed that online purchases of abortion medication generally contain the same information as its label claims.

Data suggests that complications following self-managed abortions are very rare. Only 35% of providers have ever witnessed a patient with complications after they had taken the pregnancy termination pill. There were no serious adverse events in a study of over 200 women who had self-manage their abortions in South America, Southeast Asia and West Africa. Because the pill was not effective, only one percent required antibiotics and 1.5% needed vacuum aspiration.

Pills & More!

It is crucial that you determine if you are a suitable candidate for the abortion pill if you plan to self-manage your pregnancy. According to a 2019 review, self-managed abortions are most dangerous if you don’t know that you don’t qualify. You may not be aware that you are pregnant, or that your medical condition makes medical abortion more risky. Grossman states that you shouldn’t use the abortion pill if your blood thinners are taking effect or you have an IUD.

Legally, self-managing a pregnancy termination can be dangerous. Plan C is a group of researchers and public health advocates. It stated at least 24 people were prosecuted for using pregnancy termination pills on their behalf. This number is actually quite low in context. Every year, thousands of people manage their abortions themselves. The true number is likely to be at least 100,000. Few of these people have ever faced legal consequences. For confidential advice and assistance in assessing your legal risk, contact the Repro Legal Helpline at (844-868-2812) or online.